The Red Sulphur – Speech cont’d

A’uzubillahi minashaitonir Rojeem, Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem, Allahuma Solli wa Salleem ‘ala Sayidina Muhammmadin wa aalihi wa sohbihi…

In the last post we stopped at the lowest level of speech i.e. distancing oneself from forbidden speech and the types of forbidden speech. The next level or higher level of speech is that which be directed to the various types of recitation and invocations and also sincere good counsel and calling /summoning people to Allah ta’ala. It is mentioned in a tradition that, ‘There is no morning save that the various limbs of the human being call out to the tongue saying,”Fear Allah concerning (for the sake of) us! Because we are only through you. If you are upright, we will be upright and if you’re crooked, we will be crooked.”‘ Thus the tongue has to be used for beneficial speech.

In the issue of singing or poetry for recreation or amusement to the self to energise it, then it should be (composed of) good speech (words) and how excelllent it would be if it was the speech of the Companions or Tabi’in or the awliya’ or the pious. There is a hadith that goes, “All the speech of the son of Adam is against him and not for him save dhikrullah and that which assist/leads to it.” Allah ta’ala says, “And they were guided to good/pure speech..”


As for sleep, it is among the needs of man which should be organized. So they apply the Prophetic Way with regards to sleep. The quantity is specified in a 24-hr period of time. A person who is accustomed to sleep 8 hours in the 24-hr period should decrease that amount gradually. So if a person decreases it by 15 minutes in every three or four months, that would not affect him/her at all until they can bring it to a moderate amount. A moderate amount here is 6 hours in a 24-hr period.

A person through disciplining him/herself and gradual decrease will bring it down to below 6 hours as well. We know some of our shaykhs and their shaykhs whom sleep was no more than two hours. they would suffice with this in a 24 hr period. Achieving this requires resolve and the person must be true and sincere. Doing istighfar before sunset and tasbih, tahmid, tahlil (33, 33, 34 times ea.) will aid the person. The time to sleep should be chosen and the best is at the beginning of the night and also a short nap around noon.

The Red Sulphur – 4 pillars…

A’uzubillahi minashaitonir Rojeem, Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem, Allahuma Solli wa Salleem ‘ala Sayidina Muhammmadin wa aalihi wa sohbihi…

Shaykh al-Imam al-‘Aydarus said, “Sufi Shaykhs have agreed that their affair is built upon little food (consumption), little speech and sleep as well as seclusion from people, discipline of the soul, spiritual retreats (khalwah) and that all objectives and stations only occur under (the guidance) of a gnostic shaykh or (one who is) referred to as Insan al-Kamil (The Perfect Man).

The Imam here mentioned about the four pillars of striving (al mujahadah) in the journey to Allah. Concerning this the poet said,
“The house of sainthood has its pillars divided into 4 by the abdaal*. Between silence and always being alone and staying up at night and and eating little.”
So these pillars are as the Shaykh mentioned i.e. little food, sleep, speech and seclusion.

Every seeker who sleeps much and eats much and speaks much and mingles with people, engaging in that which does not concern him/her then his/her seeking is mere pretension. Imam al-Haddad combines these four in a line of poetry which close meaning is,
“Your self discipline it with silence, sleeplessness, little food and avoiding people.”
And in another line, “…through discipline with silence, hunger and avoiding bad company as well as wakefulness…”

These four pillars are the pillars of mujahadah towards Allah ta’ala. As for food, it must (most importantly) be halal and the seeker as well as Muslims in general must avoid the doubtful or syubhah from entering their stomachs much less the forbidden or haram. After this he/she should adhere to the Prophetic etiquettes (adab) that relate to food and drink. These etiquettes will give light to the heart and also they will convert one’s mundane activities into ‘ibadah. After which the seeker should also give concern to the time and quantity of food.

As for the time aspect, it is how much one consume in a 24hr period. Some of those who strive (against their nafs) limit themselves to one meal (in a 24hr period). Majority of those who are moderate have 2 meals in 24 hrs. Those who eat once usually eatat the end of the night (sahur or sahar time) or in the beginning of the night. As for quantity, that which is moderate is what is instructed to us in the sound Prophetic tradition. By the saying, “…a third for food, a third for drink and a third for his breath.” The highest (standard for qtty.) is limiting to the amount that keeps the back straight. This is indicated in the beginning of the Sahih hadith, “The son of Adam is sufficed by little morsels that keep his back straight.”

The least (or lowest level) in striving in food in terms of quantity, after avoidance of doubtful food is that the person does not allow him/herself to become particularly attached to a certain type of food and thinking about it alot. There is nothing wrong if a person naturally inclines to a certain type of food than another. However, it is blameworthy if the person becomes extremely attached and thinks about it alot to the extent that they’ll even think about it during their ‘ibadah. Therefore, the seeker should have a share in inheriting the Prophetic Way, “that he (the Prophet pbuh) would eat that which he found or was available.” Then the seeker should adhere to Prophetic etiquettes in consuming food and he/she should refrain from what he/she desire even if it were a single morsel. This is the least of striving concerning food.

to be continued…
*substitute Saints, those whom substitute their spiritual states (aḥwāl) [one for another]. They have submitted their bodies to the vigour (ḥīl) in their innermost secrets (asrār). Then they move from state (ḥāl) to state, and from knowledge (‘ilm) to knowledge, so that they are constantly increasing in the knowledge of that which is between them and their Lord. -Sahl at-Tustari

The Red Sulphur – Veils

A’uzubillahi minashaitonir Rojeem, Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem, Allahuma Solli wa Salleem ‘ala Sayidina Muhammmadin wa aalihi wa sohbihi…

(This series is a transcript of the online lectures that is still going on by Habib ‘Umar bin Hafiz r.a. based on a book written by Imam ‘Abdullah al-‘Aydarus)

Sufi Shaykhs have agreed that the densest of veils between the servant and Allah ta’ala is the nafs-alammarah or the evil commanding self. It is the seat of blameworthy traits. The most opaque of these is vain-glory or pride, love of the world (hubbuddunya), (and) the blackest or darkest (of veils) are envy, backbiting and tale-bearing. Sufi shaykhs have also agreed on the danger of associating with the wicked, companionship of the corrupt and freely interacting with those who are not mahram (women who are marriageable to us by the sharia’)

These veils spoken by the shaykh (Imam al-‘Aydarus) are non-sensory or meanings and they veil from the direction of the servant from Allah ta’ala. (Allah ta’ala is beyond being veil by anything i.e. nothing is capable of hiding Allah ta’ala, Sublime, Majestic is He! Therefore these veils are limitations of the servant themselves their own blameworthy traits are the veils.)

Desiring to be praised or for carnal pleasures or hoping to attain some interest or averting some harm or relying on something other than Allah ta’ala (are also among the veils) that comes between the heart and the light of Gnosis therein . Thus the servant is blocked from receiving his portion of the knowledge of Allah.

The densest of the veils, the most severe enemy is “the nafs (lower self) between thy two flanks”. The enemy from without (or external) is easy to fight when one has true resolve. However, how is one to deal with an enemy which is internal and given that it is an eternal enemy (up until death). The aim is not to sever it entirely but to purify and clarify it and righting and rectifying it so that it can pass from stage to stage. While it is the cause of being stucked in a station, it is also the means by which we travel (in fighting it).

The poet says, “Be wary of your lower self, and be not safe (feel safe) from its harm because it is more vile than 7 devils.” It begins as the ammarah bissu’ (evil commanding), pure goodness is heavy for it. The only thing which is easy for it in acts of goodness/devotions are those which contain its own ulterior motives which is accomplished through this act of devotion/good. This is subtle and is only known by those who are connected to the light of ‘tarbiyah. If there is a hidden ulterior motive of the lower self in acts of obedience then it would be easy for the lower self and it will perform much of this act of devotion or ‘ibadah.

For example in teaching, how does one find in oneself when he is teaching a group of whom he does not know and how does he find himself when he teaches his own family or children. Maybe he finds a difference. He finds that teaching his family is not as easy for him and his lower self will find difficulty in doing so. However, he finds it easier to teach a large group of outsiders. This is because the lower self does not have a portion in teaching his family, it does not become attached to gaining reputation among family members and children of his but it finds having a station/place among people sweet and the lower self contiunes to find those things in which it has a portion, easy.

to be continued…if Allah wills

The Red Sulphur – cont’d 3

A’uzubillahi minashaitonir Rojeem, Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem, Allahuma Solli wa Salleem ‘ala Sayidina Muhammmadin wa aalihi wa sohbihi…

Imam al-Aydarus said, “(The Shaykh/Guide is) The Arriver, the beloved who was given to reach his Lord and the signs/mark of his being a beloved to Allah ta’ala being manifested on him”. And from the signs of someone being a beloved to Allah is the person in fact reminds others of Allah (just by the sight of the person one remembers Allah). You do not sit in his company save that you find the light of nearness to Allah or the increase in faith descend into your heart and from the signs of Allah’s love is the love of the hearts of the believers for this person and there is acceptance for him among the sincere, true ones among the elect and the generality of believers.

A person whose ego incites him/her to insult this person or to harbour enmity to this person will instead feel deep in his/her heart a sense of deservingness of the (noble) status/station of this person.

He said, “(The Shaykh is) Reaching-Reached.” Allah’s kindness (lutf) and subtle meanings (Divine secrets) keep on coming to this person. With regard to the necessity of this person possessing knowledge of the Sacred Law or Shari’a, Imam al-Aydarus said, “He has knowledge both through transmission as well as intellect” (from Divine Presence i.e. ladunni) As for someone making a presumptious claim of having stations and states and being a guide by manifesting some miracles or unusual phenomenon or speaking about some of these meanings when the person is actually without them, these are just false claims.

“(The Shaykh is a) Knower of Allah and himself.” In accordance to a person’s knowledge of Allah, they will know the realities of souls. “Do not be like those who forgot Allah and Allah made them forget themselves” -Al Hashr According to the guide’s knowledge of the souls and the subtleties thereof and luminous qualities therein he will be able to remedy them.

The Imam indicated the station of Baqa’ by saying, “…one who is present and absent in both secluded and public places/times with his heart in the realms of seen and unsees. Meaning that the outward doesn not veil him from the inward and vice versa.

The Red Sulphur – cont’d 2

A’uzubillahi minashaitonir Rojeem, Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem, Allahuma Solli wa Salleem ‘ala Sayidina Muhammmadin wa aalihi wa sohbihi…

…So the salik/seeker/traveller needs someone whom his heart becomes at rest among those who possess knowledge and act well according to their knowledge, this is wara’ or scrupulousness. If the salik finds someone who possesses these qualities, then this is the greatest treasure and highest aim for the one who is seeking Allah ta’ala.

Habib Hasan Ash-Shatrie

It is related that someone claimed to be a shaykh and had disciples around him. So our master Abu Yazid al-Busthomi went to look for him. Brfore he could sit with him, he saw this self-made shaykh spat on the wall of the mosque. Abu Yazid quickly turned and returned with those who came along with him, not meeting him at all. He said, “How could someone be trusted with the secrets of the Sacred Law (Sharia’) who is not even mindful of the adab of the Sacred Law.

Our master al-‘Aydarus said about this shaykh (the genuine one), he said, “Seeking a shaykh who is a gnostic and a gnostic in the terminology of the Way is the one who reached through knowledge and action the result of which is a light that was cast into his heart which unveiled for him the realities of faith. and (The shaykh is a) traveller who has also been pulled meaning that the shaykh becomes characterised with the qualities of spiritual travel and then Allah’s gift/beneficience/bounty came upon him and then he was pulled by the Divine attraction (i.e. with no effort on his part at this stage).

Suluk or travelling is only a foundation, one cannot reach the Knowledge of Allah (Gnosis) by it (suluk) alone until Allah shows the traveller His Grace by pulling him or attract him to a lofty station. Those who know (gnosis) are either those who travelled and were pulled later or those who were observed by the gaze of attraction first and then after that made their suluk well.

Reaching Allah is reaching knowledge of Allah whereby there is a state called fana’ or annhilation (the vision of all created beings is annhilated through the vision of their Creator). The person becomes unaware of the affairs of the creatures and he does not engage in them.

He tastes from the sweetness of the nearness to Allah s.w.t. that which is indescribable. Beyond this is the station of Baqa’ (abiding or staying). The gnostic joins between the good adab in the witnessing of Allah and witnessing of creation (from) point of view of Allah’s bringing them to existence. So the outward does not veil this person from the inward. Nor the inward veil him/her from the outward. Their vision of Al-Haqq, The Truth does not prevent them from giving the creatures their right. Their fulfiling the right of the creature s does not distract them from the vision of the Real, al Haqq.

The person of this station is given the aptitude to benefit mankind and bring them near to Allah ta’ala. Imam al-Haddad said, “I have a hope or a need that is very far beyond this and that is I travel to my Beloved. I be in an intense vision of Him and that I be annhilated from creatures those far and near and I remain/abide through Him, and how vast is my portion! Habib ‘Ali al-Habsyi said that it is a secret that Holy and is not told save to one of Spiritual Chivalry or Futtuwwa.

to be continued insha-Allah…
image courtesy of Nash Dftd =)